Park Shore: Vision Fulfilled

Out of a remote chunk of land in North Naples, the Lutgert family has helped build Park Shore into a civic-minded neighborhood with all the amenities you could wish for.

BY April 21, 2016


The normally busy stretch of beach is empty as the fog blankets the high-rises along the shore.

Nearby, the shopping center—usually hopping in season—is quiet, likely due to the unseasonably wet weather that soaked Naples earlier this year.

But despite the gray skies and gloomy weather, pops of color stand out on this late January day—the brightly colored buildings of The Village on Venetian Bay, the freshly manicured lawns, the deep black stone fountain that marks the southern boundary of the neighborhood—making it clear why Park Shore is so appealing.

“I’ve always thought it was a beautiful community,” says Mark Borelli, past president of the Park Shore Association. “The location, I think, is the best location in Naples.”

That wasn’t always the case. When it was first developed, Park Shore was considered to be far away from the center of town. Some community leaders raised their eyebrows when Raymond Lutgert, the neighborhood’s founding father, announced his plans.

Five decades later, Park Shore is situated at the center of coastal Collier County. It takes just minutes to get to shopping and dining hot spots. There are grocery stores and schools; walking paths and water access; and a private beach park and water views for your eyes to feast on.

It’s hard to say whether Park Shore is Naples’ best neighborhood. But the residents who call the neighborhood at the city’s northern edge home are clear on this: There is no place else they would rather be.


Raymond Lutgert moved to Naples to retire, or so the stories go. But retirement for a former real estate developer is never really retirement in the traditional sense of the word.

Park Shore residents are only a steps away from the dining and shopping of The Village on Venetian Bay.

Originally a commercial and residential developer in Chicago, he first looked for development opportunities on Florida’s east coast, says his son, Scott Lutgert. But instead the elder Lutgert “fell in love” with the Gulfshore and decided to look for opportunities here.

“My father had the vision that over time it would develop as the East Coast had,” Scott Lutgert says in an email. “He looked at property up and down the West Coast, particularly in Fort Myers and Naples.”

He found the spot in 1964, when he purchased 760 acres of land north of Naples from the Collier family. The land was a mix of upland pine and mangroves, and was “well north of any development in Naples,” Scott Lutgert says.

“The first appraisal, after we purchased the property, actually deducted value because the property was ‘too far out of town,’” he remembers.

Howard Gutman, the president of The Lutgert Cos., says, “No doubt that Park Shore was outside the area of development at the time, but Raymond was a true visionary and could see the potential of what it is today.”

It took a while, though, for the neighborhood to pop up. There was dredging and filling to be done to create what is now Venetian Bay and usable property. Miles upon miles of seawall were installed. It took years of planning and design before the first high-rise—Horizon House—sprang from the ground.

That building marked the first of many that now dot the beach in Park Shore. But unlike on the East Coast, where high-rises are built in a straight line, thus limiting the view, buildings in Park Shore were developed in “a serpentine pattern” to preserve beach vistas.

Raymond Lutgert also developed The Village on Venetian Bay, a shopping and dining center, near the heart of the community. And in 1978, he deeded over several acres of land along the Gulf of Mexico to the Park Shore Association to create a beach park for the neighborhood’s enjoyment.

Raymond Lutgert died in 2010.

“Fortunately Raymond was able to see his son, Scott, complete the vision of Park Shore,” Gutman says. “(He) was very proud of the place that Park Shore was able to fill in Naples history.”


Mark Borelli and his family moved to Naples in 1979. He finished high school here, before going off to college.

When he moved back to Naples, he was drawn to Park Shore. His parents lived there, it was a beautiful community and even had its own elementary school, Seagate Elementary.

“It just seemed like the perfect fit,” says Borelli, vice president of Borelli Construction of Naples Inc.

Several of Park Shore's high-rises overlook the community's private park on the beach.

Nearly 20 years later, Borelli hasn’t “had any regrets whatsoever” about his decision to move to Park Shore. Neither has Rowan Samuel, who moved to the neighborhood in 2009. His family originally had built a custom home near Immokalee Road and Collier Boulevard. But with two young children, Samuel said he and his wife were often spending hours in the car to get from one place to the next.

“For us, it was totally a matter of lifestyle,” says Samuel, a real estate agent with John R. Wood Properties and a member of the Park Shore Association board of directors. “Everything is within five or 10 minutes of what we do.”

Seven minutes to the Mercato. Seven minutes to downtown. Waterside Shops and Artis—Naples are just a short drive away. But why bother getting in the car, when many residents can walk or bike to The Village on Venetian Bay?

Restaurateur Tony Ridgway, who owns Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar in The Village, jumped at the opportunity to open the restaurant 25 years ago.

“We looked at the space and said it was a no-brainer,” says Ridgway, who also owns Ridgway Bar & Grill in Old Naples. “I think that Bayside is the single best physical location in Collier County. We were confident 25 years ago, and we’re confident today.”

Ridgway said one of the big differences between Park Shore and other parts of town is the people. People live in Park Shore full-time or stay for six or eight months straight. They don’t seem to leave as much as other part-timers, who travel in and out of town more frequently.

“They love being in their neighborhood,” he says of the residents. “And we love being in their neighborhood.”


Ellen Seigel takes pride in living in Park Shore. She beams as she drives through the neighborhood, pointing out the new landscaping and monument marking the entrance from U.S. 41.

Seigel moved there 11 years ago, after briefly living in a neighborhood in the southern part of town. Within days of moving in, someone from the Park Shore Association knocked on the door and encouraged Seigel to join.

A main selling point? Joining the Park Shore Association gains residents access to the 2.6-acre beach park. Seigel, a past president of the association, said 1,500 families in Park Shore are members.

The park was deeded over to the association by Raymond Lutgert. It’s in a prime location, and on a sunny day it’s packed with residents and their families enjoying fun in the sun. In 2010, the association renamed the park “Raymond Lutgert Park” after its founder. The Lutgert family also donated one of his sculptures, Aspiration, which now serves as the centerpiece of the park.

“His stamp is everywhere,” Borelli says.

There have been few renovations over the years. The association added bathrooms in 2011, and recently it added a bridge over the sand dunes to make accessing the beach a bit easier.

This year, after many of the seasonal residents bid adieu, the association will begin a major renovation project at the park. It plans to add a circular walkway through the space and add picnic tables and new plantings to spruce up the facility.

“We’re always trying to improve the park and update things,” Borelli says.


To say Park Shore residents are civic-minded might be an understatement.

For years, the association complained about the battered wooden stop signs that lined intersections in their community. There was talk of creating a special taxing district to add and maintain signs and planters throughout the neighborhood, but the plan was eventually nixed.

Old and new homes mix to maintain an eclectic neighborhood.

In 2014, Naples City Council approved a nearly $75,000 pilot project to replace 68 wooden signs with black aluminum ones. The Park Shore neighborhood got 44 of those signs.

At the time, Seigel told the Naples Daily News that city officials likely chose Park Shore to be the test neighborhood because it was “a project we’ve been working on for three years.”

That civic mindedness kicked into gear again last summer, when the city approved a $360,000 project to widen Gulf Shore Boulevard North. That meant chopping down hundreds of trees, including mature palms, along the street.

Residents rose up, outraged over city council’s decision to take such drastic landscaping measures. They complained to council, calling on lawmakers to replace the trees.

The opposition worked. City council in September agreed to add $500,000 to the project’s budget to fix the mistakes, including planting more trees. The Naples Daily News in December reported the city was hoping to plant 43 large canopy trees in medians between Admiralty Point and Horizon Way.

The community-conscious attitude goes beyond lobbying city council, though. The neighborhood recently started the Park Shore Fund under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of Collier County. It’s the only neighborhood association in Collier County with its own fund, says Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Community Foundation.

Community members can make tax-deductible donations to the fund. That money can then be used for beautification projects for the public good. The Park Shore Fund’s first project was creating a new entrance, complete with a monument welcoming visitors to the neighborhood. The next project, Seigel says, involves improving the landscaping at Park Shore Drive and Crayton Road. The hope, she says, is to plant clusters of coconut palms.

Connolly-Keesler says she hopes more neighborhood associations follow Park Shore’s lead, saying a fund is a “great way for people who love community beautification” to give back.


Construction sites dot the streets, larger homes popping up to replace the first-generation, single-family homes that once stood there.

Mark Borelli says the association’s design review board ensures new homes fit the aesthetics of the neighborhood. The goal, he says, is to make sure “larger new homes and older homes can coexist together and still look good together.”

“We’ve run out of property close to the coast,” Borelli says. “If someone wants to live in areas close to the coast, you’re going to see an acceleration of purchases, teardowns and remodeling.”

Rowan Samuel, who specializes in real estate west of U.S. 41, says the mix of old and new homes is what makes Park Shore so interesting. Even the older ones, he says, are renovated on the inside, with high-end finishing.

“The neighborhood is changing,” he says.

Those changes are to be expected, and Scott Lutgert says they’ll likely continue. Single-family homes and commercial parcels are already being redeveloped; and Lutgert says it’s likely the condominium properties will be getting a face-lift.

Yet even as the neighborhood evolved, Lutgert says his father’s “original plan stood the test of time.”


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